“Empathy Represses Analytic Thought, And Vice Versa: Brain Physiology Limits Simultaneous Use Of Both Empathy And Analysis”

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When the brain’s analytic network is engaged, our ability to appreciate the human cost of our action is repressed…we have a built-in neural constraint on our ability to be both empathetic and analytic at the same time.

New research shows a simple reason why even the most intelligent, complex brains can be taken by a swindler’s story — one that upon a second look offers clues it was false.  When the brain fires up the network of neurons that allows us to empathize, it suppresses the network used for analysis…

When the analytic network is engaged, our ability to appreciate the human cost of our action is repressed.

  • At rest, our brains cycle between the social and analytical networks.
  • But when presented with a task, healthy adults engage the appropriate neural pathway, the researchers found.
  • we have a built-in neural constraint on our ability to be both empathetic and analytic at the same time
  • adults presented with social or analytical problems — all external stimuli — consistently engaged the appropriate neural pathway to solve the problem, while repressing the other pathway.

The work suggests that established theories about two competing networks within the brain must be revised.  More, it provides insights into the operation of a healthy mind versus those of the mentally ill or developmentally disabled.

“This is the cognitive structure we’ve evolved…Empathetic and analytic thinking are, at least to some extent, mutually exclusive in the brain.”

A number of earlier studies showed that two large scale brain networks are in tension in the brain, one which is known as the default mode network and a second known as the task positive network.

“The disconnect between experiential understanding and scientific understanding is known as the explanatory gap.”..

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One thought on ““Empathy Represses Analytic Thought, And Vice Versa: Brain Physiology Limits Simultaneous Use Of Both Empathy And Analysis”

  1. Pingback: Should exhibits tell stories? | Museum Questions

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